Need some insight, re: The Hustler

West Point 1987

On the Hill, Out of Gas
Silver Member
The movie was going to use the title, "Stroke of Luck" as they thought Hustler was too much of a negative at that time. Oh, and when they went to the Race Track, one of the horses announced over the speaker was none other than Stroke of Luck :thumbup:

Piper Laurie didn't act in a movie again for 15 years. She wanted to raise her child. She still acted on TV shows and such, but no movies as they were too much of a time commitment and too much travelling. I saw her in an episode of Law and Order SVU a few years back. She was quite terrifying in that episode and when I read the credits I saw the name Piper Laurie, and would never had recognized her, but the voice was pretty much the same. Should have figured it out just on that one. She played an evil foster parent.

She also played in the TV series "Twin Peaks"...she aged quite well at that point. Very intense.


AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
I'd like to see a reboot of the Hustler...not unlike the way Ocean's 11 was redone.

Then the sequel to the Hustler, the Color Of Money, as it was written by Walter Tevis in his book of the same name, NOT the way it was re-written to accommodate Tom Cruise.


thanks for the link
i did not know the movie was drastically different from the book
i guess i should read both books


RIP Kelly
Silver Member
New York Times obituary for Rudolph Wanderone aka Minnesota Fats

Minnesota Fats, a Real Hustler With a Pool Cue, Is Dead


Rudolf Walter Wanderone, the charming, slick-talking pool hustler who labored largely in obscurity until he reinvented himself in the 1960's by claiming to be Minnesota Fats, died yesterday at his home in Nashville. He was 82, or perhaps 95.

With Fats, who insisted he was the prototype of the fictional character portrayed by Jackie Gleason in the movie "The Hustler," the only certainty was that you could never know for sure.

His wife, Theresa, said the cause of death was congestive heart failure.

Both she and his first wife, Evaline, insisted that he would have been 83 today although Fats, who long claimed to have been born in 1900, had taken to calling the 1913 birth date that appeared in a 1966 biography his "baseball age."

In a career in which he may or may not have sailed around the world six times, survived two shipwrecks and hobnobbed, as he claimed, with the likes of Clark Gable, Arnold Rothstein, Damon Runyon and Al Capone, his age was as slippery as his moves around a pool table.

Although he had in fact made his living since the 1920's crisscrossing the country taking on all comers, until "The Hustler" came out in 1961, nobody beyond the small coterie of pool hustlers and their eager marks had heard of him.
Continue reading the main story

But Mr. Wanderone, a New York native whose various nicknames had in fact included New York Fats, knew an opportunity when he saw one. He simply adopted the name Minnesota Fats, claiming that the character portrayed by Gleason in the 1961 movie had been based on his life.

Walter Tevis, the author of the original novel, consistently denied the claim, but it was a measure of Mr. Wanderone's mesmerizing ways that his widow insisted yesterday that before the author's death Mr. Tevis had made a hefty settlement to her husband to avoid a lawsuit, a claim the former Mrs. Wanderone scoffed at.

"Fats never got a quarter," she said.

It was an index of Mr. Wanderone's grasp of human psychology and his own impish appeal that he realized that it didn't make any difference whether he had been Minnesota Fats before the 1960's.

Within months after he decided to cash in on his borrowed fame, Mr. Wanderone, or Minnesota Fats, was a celebrity, appearing on television, making nationwide tours and passing out stamped autograph cards proclaiming himself the greatest pool player ever.

He certainly looked like a Minnesota Fats, or at least some Fats. At 5 feet 10 inches, Mr. Wanderone had weighed as much as 300 pounds.

Mr. Wanderone, who did not drink but was famous for his love of ice cream, pies or anything sweet, never apologized for his appetite.

As he told it in his 1966 biography, "The Bank Shot and Other Great Robberies," by Tom Fox, "I've been eating like a sultan since I was 2 days old. I had a mother and three sisters who worshiped me, and when I was 2 years old they used to plop me in a bed with a jillion satin pillows and spray me with exotic perfumes and lilac water and then they would shoot me the grapes."

The early pampering perhaps explains why Mr. Wanderone, who once said he never picked up anything heavier than a silver dollar, grew up with a fierce aversion to physical labor, so much so that on their cross-country trips his wife was expected to do all the driving, carry all the luggage and even change the flat tires.

"Change a tire?" Mr. Wanderone once exclaimed. "I'd rather change cars."

Although his frequent claim that he had never lost a game "when the cheese was on the table," was more fabrication than exaggeration, according to his first wife, Mr. Wanderone was in fact a master hustler who tended to be just as good as he needed to be when he needed to be.

"He knew how to manage money," she said, insisting that while the late Willie Mosconi, the perennial professional champion, may have been correct in claiming to have won the vast majority of their games, "Fats always left with the money."

During their years together, she said, "We lived like kings."

Mr. Wanderone, who had a weakness for Cadillacs and other expensive cars, was also known as an easy touch, one who never said no to a loan and who was so fond of animals he adopted dozens of them.

He also had an acknowledged weakness for women, or "the tomatoes," as he called them.

According to both of his wives, Mr. Wanderone was a courtly man of the old school, one who, for example, would inevitably remind his opponents to watch their language whenever he would escort his first wife into some dingy pool hall.

He also knew how to take care of himself, the first Mrs. Wanderone said, recalling how she would sometimes be waiting in a convertible outside a backstreet pool room when her husband, having cleaned out the customers inside, would be forced to fight his way out.

"In his hands a pool cue was as good a weapon as a knife," she said.

Mr. Wanderone, whose father was a seagoing Swiss immigrant, was born in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan on Jan. 19, apparently in 1913 (although he once claimed to have been hustling as early as 1910).

He traced his interest in the sport to an uncle who used to take him to saloons and plop him down on the pool table when he was 2. "The pool table was my crib," he said.

Dropping out of school in the eighth grade, he accompanied his father to Europe on several trips, once studying with a Swiss pool champion.

However, he learned the game. He learned it well enough to support himself without having to take an actual job, although he would have been far better off, his first wife said, had he been able to stay away from gambling at the dice tables.

Curiously, after he became Minnesota Fats, his new persona led to an actual job, something he had studiously avoided. He went to work for a pool equipment company, spending so much time making personal appearances across the country and coming home so grumpy, his first wife said, that she finally divorced him in 1985.

Mr. Wanderone then settled in Nashville, settling in a subsidized celebrity suite at the Hermitage Hotel, where he spent his days feeding bread crumbs to the pigeons in a nearby park and his evenings stamping autographs in Music City honky-tonks.

Mr. Wanderone, whose nonstop braggadocio banter had made generations of pool hall denizens laugh, was as charming as ever. In 1992, when he expressed fear of being declared incompetent and becoming a ward of the state, he married 27-year-old Theresa Bell. She nursed him around the clock except, she said yesterday, when she would stay at home while her husband and her boyfriend went bar-hopping.

She is his only survivor.


Silver Member
She also played in the TV series "Twin Peaks"...she aged quite well at that point. Very intense.

Oh, never saw that show. I bet she was great. She has a certain "aura" about her. She was terrific in Law & Order, and she was probably nearing 70 ?

Was she a regular in that show, or just an episode?


Silver Member
You seem to infer that Fats died broke. I've never heard that said before. Possible but i kind of doubt it. Also, i never said Fats was in WM's league as a player. Fats was a road-man and gambler. Willie's skill and achievements are undeniable, no doubt.

I'm not sure if he was "broke" but someone was allowing him to live rent free in a hotel? Jay probably knows a lot more on that subject. But, there is NO chance, zero, that the character in the book was based on NY Fats... there are no similarities other than the obvious, they were both portly pool players... well, that's most of my league ;) lol

I'm pretty confident Willie had the first dollar he ever earned. He gets a bad rap for taking his job serious, and treating it like a career. He was a stickler for all things related to pool.. Most of the top folks in their chosen sport are. Ask Jordan how much he pushed those around him, he expected nothing less than greatness or die trying ;)

L.S. Dennis

Active member
" When Fast Eddie prepares for his first matchup against Minnesota Fats, his manager sits down in front of a poster depicting Willie Mosconi, 14-time world champion in billiards from 1941 to 1957. About ten minutes later, Willie himself makes a cameo as the guy who holds onto the bet money. His character name is also Willie.
All the pool shots in the movie are performed by the actors themselves ('Newman, Paul' and 'Gleason, Jackie' ) except one: the masse shot (cue ball sends two object balls into the same pocket), performed by Willie Mosconi.
Fast Eddie is from Oakland, California.
Filmed on location at Julian's Poolroom on East 14th Street in Manhattan. Today, the establishment is known as Julian's Famous Poolroom.
Cliff Robertson lost the role that went to 'Paul Newman' , Jack Lemmon having already declined the part. "

Actually I remember reading that Willie Mosconi recommended a your Frank Sinatra for the part of Eddie Felton.
The studios having taken his suggestion for Gleason as Fats (a no brainer) decided against the Sinatra suggestion and went with Newman, the correct decision as it turned out.


AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
The book "Willies Game", autobiography of Willie, tells the story of hustling Jackie. Totes set it up. They play to 100, Willie wins first game, they play another game. Willie runs 70 right handed and the last 30 left handed.
Also i just watched TCOM on youtube for free!!!